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A hot meal on a cold night: Mattituck Leos serve up pasta dinner for a good cause

The Mattituck Leos hope to raise enough money to sponsor a guide dog like 11-month-old Winn, puppy in training. Photo: Katharine Schroeder

On a freezing winter night, just a day after a powerful blizzard struck the North Fork, hundreds of people made their way to Mattituck High School for the Leo Club spaghetti dinner fundraiser Friday.

Organized by club president Cassie Nine, a Mattituck High School senior, the dinner is one of many fundraisers the group does throughout the year. Last night’s event will benefit the Guide Dog Foundation.

“We try to do an event at least once a month,” said Cassie. “We do all different kinds of things — hold bake sales, run change collection drives and of course this spaghetti dinner.”

Local businesses are just great about jumping into help, Cassie said. “All of the food was donated for tonight’s dinner. I thought I was going to have a bunch of parents cooking meatballs, but Ammirati’s did everything – and they’re right there in the kitchen tonight serving the food,” she said.

Steve (left) and Greg Ammirati with Chewey, center. Photo: Katharine Schroeder

In the cafeteria kitchen, the crew from Ammirati’s worked side by side with volunteers from Kait’s Angels and members of the Leos Club; they were prepared to serve up to 500 dinners. One volunteer, Ammirati’s manager/chef “Chewey” was happily dishing out spaghetti, meatballs and chicken cutlets when he was urged by the kitchen crew share his story of just how devoted he was to getting the food ready for the fundraiser.

“I drove to work in the blizzard. Slid right off the road,” he said. He whipped out a cell phone to show a photo of his car on the Route 48 median; a friend eventually pulled him out.

“I had to get to work to make the meatballs,” he said laughing.

Although the Mattituck Lions Club is widely known throughout the North Fork for sponsoring the Strawberry Festival and supporting dozens of community organizations, the Leo Club is perhaps less widely known.

Cassie Nine, left, with volunteer Nicole Brewer. Photo: Katharine Schroeder

The club is the high school affiliate of the Mattituck Lions Club; its mission is to encourage young people to be “positive agents of change” in their communities. They are involved in community service projects, fundraising and helping out at the Strawberry Festival.

Right now the club is open to boys and girls in grades 9 to 12, but Cassie hopes to extend the age range to include grades 7 and 8 and to open up membership to all North Fork kids. Presently Leos must be from Mattituck; there are 63 members in the club at last count.

One of the goals of the Leo Club is to save enough money to sponsor their own guide dog, something the Lions have been doing for years. On hand at the fundraiser was a Lions-sponsored guide dog puppy in training, 11-month-old Labrador Winn, who lives with puppy-raiser E.J. Flynn of Southold.

Tonight’s fundraiser was sponsored by Ammirati’s of Love Lane, Kait’s Angels, the Handy Pantry, the Mattituck Lions and the Mattituck Booster Club.

SoutholdLOCAL photos by Katharine Schroeder





Katharine is a writer and photographer who has lived on the North Fork for nearly 40 years, except for three-plus years in Hong Kong a decade ago, working for the actor Jackie Chan. She lives in Cutchogue. Email Katharine